Creativity for Actors


Written by on | Must Read Articles!

‘Create, don’t recreate’ is a great mantra.

Have you ever walked through a crowded city street, Martin Place or Circular Quay perhaps, and seen one of those amazing pavement artists at work? A long, meticulous task in which the results don’t arrive quickly, as beautiful as they are. I’ve never sat and watched one of these artists and felt the urgent need to see the final product. To say ’hurry up, godammit!’. It is witnessing the creating, no matter how slowly it occurs, that holds our attention. In fact, one could argue that the time it takes for these people to go about their work is an antidote to the rush of modern day living. Perhaps that’s why they stake out their stage in the busiest parts of town. It’s a subconscious lesson to passers-by and attracts them as a brief respite from Type A living. It’s telling us to slow down.

It is the creating that we love. The act of the creation. Witness someone go about their craft in a spontaneous and ‘ever present’ manner. This is one of the main reasons why an artist, any artist, must throw away their homework if their performance is to reach the right heights.This must be in your acting. Always.

We never want to see the cogs of preparation turning on the day.

The audience want a ‘live event’ and this applies in equal measure to our work on camera, even if it takes months of post and distribution to reach your intended audience.

Immediacy is a wonderful thing. The purpose of art is down to taste – some ask for escapism, some to be informed, some to have something to discuss over dinner the next evening. But every man, woman and child (children especially!) DEMAND immediacy. We want to be brought into the now. The moment. Or, perhaps more accurately, we want to be taken into a parallel now, where our own reality can be placed aside for the duration of the show and we return a fresher, more enlivened human being.

I think I get a lot of inspiration from the people that I choose to play with.

Your job description requires you to ACT, and you cannot act yesterday or tomorrow. So do not place your mind there, still buried somewhere in your notes or wondering what the reviews will be like or if that note your director is scribbling down is the same one she gave you yesterday. Create. Create freely and daringly and put your heart and focus into it.

What’s more, if you see your fellow actor/s as co-creators, which they most certainly are, then you can enjoy the game of creating together. This is what working off the other actor really means- feeding one another’s creative energies and so growing the work together. Yes, the characters most likely have different objectives, but underneath this battle for supremacy should always be a sense of collaboration.

You’re a band. An orchestra. And just as the flutes answer the clarinets, so Martha answers George.It stands to reason that the work will also be fifty times more pleasurable for you if this is the case. Why? Because creativity does not know the meaning of obligation. Creativity is not interested in how it looks or sounds. Creativity has no ego whatsoever when it really hits its stride.

This idea of creativity certainly applies to life in general and, as an actor, we can practice it there. We are in the business of creating 24/7, 365 days a year. Life is the longest Impro, after all. And sometimes we forget to attend to that.

There are the obvious acts of creation- writing, cooking, renovating, artistic pursuits, gardening and a whole list of hobbies and necessities through which our creativity can be bolstered, but there are also the more simple daily tasks, some menial and some just prerequisite to going about our day to which we can apply a newfound sense of creativity.

You can look on any action, from brushing hair to walking down the street as an act of creation and immediately feel a bit more liberated. This does not imply self indulgence, but a sense of pleasure in the sheer ‘doing of things’, in the achievement and freewill of creating our way through life.

Those who create most ably are the most ‘present’ as performers. They are continually looking for opportunities to find something interesting or a new way of doing something that serves the play. The simplest of activities can become a wonderful piece of art on stage or screen if the actor is operating on this frequency. If we are stuck in ‘recreating’, however, then we are most likely stuck in our heads. And how do we get out of this treacherous time-share between our ears?

There are a number of ways that are tried and tested, and they all follow the idea that we are at our most creative when we have forgotten completely about ourselves.

The OTHER ACTOR, of course, is our first port of call. What are they doing? What do I want them to do? How can I change them?

A always wants B to feel or do something!

The other place to stay firmly planted is in THE SENSES.

Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell and Touch. These are all present. We stay present when we meet the world with our senses in favour of our intellect.

You want to be HERE and NOW? You can’t be anywhere else with those means at your disposal, because you can’t hear tomorrow and you can’t smell yesterday (unless you stick your nose in your laundry basket!) So stay in your senses, stay collaborative and you might find pay dirt comes at the relative flick of a switch!

About the Author


is an actor, director, writer and teacher. He is co-founder and director of The Sydney Screen Acting Group, which runs classes out of Fox Studios. Contact: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

11 − 4 =